Sarah Baskerville, Head of Business Intelligence Systems at the Department for Transport, will be delivering a guest seminar for SAP BPC users at the forthcoming itelligence Conference in London. In this blog, Mike Weeks, an expert in SAP BPC at itelligence, previews the seminar and offers some insights of his own.
The question I often ask SAP BPC users more than any other is “what happens if your in-house BPC resource falls under a bus?” With Sarah Baskerville from the Department for Transport delivering a guest seminar on SAP BPC and the advantages of outsourcing key processes at our forthcoming conference, I do wonder whether I should start asking a different question, but the principle remains the same.
Your SAP BPC solution is mission critical and users have two choices, either recruit that capability in-house or outsource. Understandably, many choose the former, preferring to keep critical functions close at hand. However, the role of a BPC Administrator is broad and challenging, requiring a breadth and depth of financial, business process and technical skills in order to administer, maintain and enhance a modern Planning and Consolidation platform. The administrator is the link between IT and Finance in running and managing the system business processes and training the end users. All of this requires a thorough knowledge of SAP BPC from reporting through to logic scripting and master data maintenance (including managing source integration via SAP BW or SQL and Netweaver ABAP skills for maintaining and enhancing any back end logic written as BPC BADI’s).
A close working relationship is required with IT so BPC administrators will also often have to wear a change management hat to deal with systems enhancements. Trying to find and retain the individual with all these skillsets is difficult to say the least and they will come at a high price. The first problem with this approach is that you have a single point of failure. Without wanting to bring readers of this blog out in a bad case of hives ask yourself this: what happens if your BPC administrator falls sick during year end reporting? Doesn’t bear thinking about does it?
And that’s not all, because you also need to consider what actually happens to an organisation when it attempts to run SAP BPC in-house. My experience suggests that when you try to maintain the BPC solution yourself, circa 95% of resources are focused on the running of the solution, with only 5% focused on enhancement and optimisation. As any user will know, these applications require regular administration, with new users joining, old users leaving, security considerations, changes to the business structure, additional cost centres and changes to budgeting and planning cycles all needing to be actioned. Do you really want that highly paid BPC Administrator doing this stuff, when they should be concentrating on the big mission critical changes that typically come around prior to the year end and in the first weeks of the new reporting season?
It is also important to consider the opportunity cost of not doing this essential cleaning. SAP BPC is a finance application which, by definition, has an enormous amount of auditability in the form of old cached records which ultimately become a burden on the system. Ideally, systems should be regarded as having a life cycle which, as the system gets older, needs more regular servicing, in the form of clearing out old data, optimising performance, ensuring that Microsoft SQL or SAP Business Warehouse are optimised and not clogged with bad or old and irrelevant data. Ultimately, without this sort of close management and optimisation the user experience of the finance professionals, who regularly use SAP BPC, will suffer.
Fortunately there is an alternative to in-house which can free up vital resource, particularly at critical periods, such as the financial year-end. SAP BPC Application Managed Support, or AMS contracts, enable users to rid themselves of the day to day administration and concentrate on the optimisation efforts which will add real value to the organisation.
With an AMS contract you have a pool of resources on demand that means you’re spending less time on the running of the system and more time making it work better for you. This is how the Department for Transport use the itelligence AMS Support Centre, with a skilled team focused on maximising their investment. My experience of AMS contracts is that the traditional 95% run and 5% optimisation can be reversed to a much more valuable 50% run and 50% optimisation. Crucially, the business risk is shared. itelligence underwrites the quality of work as part of a formal contract and has a reservoir of SAP BPC talent to call upon. What’s more, the service level agreement is constructed to ensure that different priorities are taken into account in relation to the nature of the call and time of year. There is one final thing to take into account. SAP BPC is evolving all the time and going forward it will require new and different skillsets on the part of users. This evolution is only going to increase the cost of running SAP BPC systems and also increase the downside risk for users.
My message to SAP BPC users is that AMS could allow you to release the valuable skills you have in-house which at the moment are bogged down on day-to-day BPC management issues.
The itelligence Conference 2016, ‘Making Digital Real’, is being held at 155 Bishopsgate on 17th May 2016. For further information and to register for the event please click here